National Security

Does FBI Have Authority To Operate In India Without State Govt’s Approval?

Recently the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) was found investigating in Kolkata, West Bengal. The seven-member team of FBI investigators where there to question an arrested terror group operative alleged to have plans to hit US interest. What is of concern here is that neither the Home Ministry was informed formally nor the West Bengal state authorities knew about this FBI visit.

As reported by Times of India,

Even though FBI didn’t share with Indian investigators what exactly they had got against Armar to make this trip, officials say US investigators might be wary of Armar preparing ‘lone wolf’ bombers to attack Americans.

When West Bengal sought an explanation on why the state government was not kept in the loop about FBI being hosted in the state the NIA is believed to have said that the Government of India has signed an international agency-to-agency cooperation agreement under which it is not necessary to inform the state government before calling FBI or any other international agency into the state – meaning that FBI has the authority to operate into any Indian state without the State Government’s consent or approval.

As per another Times of India report,

NIA is believed to have told the West Bengal authorities that according to the international agency-to-agency cooperation agreement, it was not necessary to inform the state government before calling FBI or any other international agency.

What is more alarming is that even the Home Ministry was not formally informed.

In fact, a senior MHA official said that even home ministry was not formally told of the visit.

Foreign security agencies operating in India without the State Government’s cognizance or consent is a very serious trend that is taking shape. One such is a Curious Case of Anita Uddaiya – the only witness who saw the Mumbai Attack terrorists disembark from the rubber dinghy and actually spoke to them.

The Curious Case of Anita Uddaiya

In bizarre circumstances the only witness who saw the terrorists disembark from the rubber dinghy at Badhwar Park and actually spoke to them goes missing for four days without even the police knowing about it. “Uddaiya went to toilet from where she was whisked away by the investigators,” said Madhusudhan Nair, president of Mahatma Jyotiba Phule Nagar slum area where Uddaiya resides.

Police said they have launched a manhunt for the missing witness, who had been taken to the J J Hospital earlier to identify the bodies of the nine killed terrorists. The missing persons complaint was lodged by Uddaiya’s daughter after she went missing from her house in the Cuffe Parade’s Fisherman’s Colony. The crime branch of the city police, which was the investigating agency in the November 26 terror attacks, had also launched a probe into the incident.

“We are also probing the disappearance of the lady since she is a witness in the case,” joint commissioner of police (crime) Rakesh Maria said. Even the Additional Commissioner of Police K. Venkatesam had no information about this disappearance.

According to Uddaiya there were four officers inside the posh vehicle that took her and one of them knew Hindi. It was later found that she had been ‘whisked away’ to the US for questioning by the US investigating agencies.

Now, she is a fisherwoman who couldn’t speak English and didn’t even had a passport. She was ‘whisked away’ to the US in doubtful circumstances and remained missing for four days and after she comes back her testimony was rejected on the grounds of her mental instability.

How did she reach US? Who took her there? Was it officially sanctioned? Who sanctioned it? If not why wasn’t this aspect probed further? More importantly, what happened to her in US? Does FBI have authority to operate in India without the State Govt’s approval under international agreements signed by the Government of India?

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